Gatewing UAV delivers high-res digital mapping

The military has been doing it for years. Now other organizations can have a drone of their own.

Gatewing, a Belgian company, has just released the X100, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a 10 megapixel camera and designed for orthogonal photography and digital mapping.

According to the Gatewing staff, the drone first appeared about six months ago and is recently available in the United States. It definitely attracted a good deal of attention at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego (July 11-15). 

The $69,000 drone has a wingspan of 39 inches and weighs 4.4 pounds. Launched with a catapult, the propeller-driven X100 is battery-powered.  It can stay aloft for half an hour at its default flight altitude of 492 feet.  During that time, it can photograph nearly a square mile at a time, taking 1,000 photographs. 

The raw images are processed into orthophotos and are georeferenced by included software, the company said. The result is LIDAR-quality (with a pixel resolution of five centimeters at default altitude with 12-centimeter elevation accuracy) orthophotos that can be turned into terrain maps.

The X100 won’t replace other aerial imaging technologies.  It is limited to RGB imaging, and its maximum resolution and altitude range (492 feet to 2,460 feet) make it best suited to such uses as local infrastructure mapping, topographical surveying and vegetation monitoring.

According to Gatewing, the ESRI conference is the company’s first appearance in the U.S. market, although it has sold the X100 to two U.S. customers: the University of Long Beach and a surveyor in Alaska.

More information is available at


About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 larry

The gatewing is a good product, but is more expensive than it should be, the zephyr2 uav systems shows much more versatility for the price range...

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 Steve Smith USA

We were able to see results from the processing by gatewing and pix4d and we are seeing a 1-2m z accuracy and the point cloud is very loose and non uniform. Ok for mapping grade projects, not there for survey grade, plus a limited flight duration. the system looks good though!

Mon, Jul 25, 2011 Peter Cosyn België

Hi Steve. I am CTO of Gatewing and noticed your comment on this article. An RMS vertical accuracy of 12 cm is perfectly doable. This has been verified in multiple projects. The power comes from having a tool for high-quality and high-overlap acquisition (our setup) and state-of-the-art processing software that allows multi-view 3D reconstruction including minimal ground control for accurate georeferencing.

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 Steve Smith USA

interesting concept, not the first uav to be used for surveying. from what i've heard from actual users of it is it can't achieve the 12cm vertical accuracy they claim and that accuracy has never been verified or tested. technically if done properly, 12 cm is achievable but with this setup and processing techniques, 1-3 meters is doable.

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